A quarter in review - Nearly there, 2020 in sight Daniel Silverstone

The 2019 plan - Third-quarter review

At the start of the year I blogged about my plans for 2019. For those who don't want to go back to read that post, in summary they are:

  1. Continue to lose weight and get fit. I'd like to reach 80kg during the year if I can
  2. Begin a couch to 5k and give it my very best
  3. Focus my software work on finishing projects I have already started
  4. Where I join in other projects be a net benefit
  5. Give back to the @rustlang community because I've gained so much from them already
  6. Be better at tidying up
  7. Save up lots of money for renovations
  8. Go on a proper holiday

At the point that I posted that, I promised myself to do quarterly reviews and so here is the second of those. The first can be found here, and the second here.

1. Weight loss

So when I wrote in July, I was around 83kg. I am very sad to report that I did not manage to drop another 5kg, I'm usually around 81.5kg at the moment, though I do peak up above 84kg and down as far as 80.9kg. The past three months have been an exercise in incredible frustration because I'd appear to be making progress only to have it vanish in one day.

I've continued my running though, and cycling, and I've finally gone back to the gym and asked for a resistance routine to compliment this, so here's hoping.

Yet again, I continue give myself a solid "B" for this, though if I were generous, given everything else I might consider a "B+"

2. Fitness (was Couch to 5k)

When I wrot ein July, I was pleased to say that I was sub 28m on my parkrun. I'm now consistently sub 27:30, and have personal bests of 26:18 and 26:23 at two of my local parkruns.

I have started running with my colleagues once a week, and that run is a bit longer (5.8 to 7km depending on our mood) and while I've only been out with them a couple of times so far, I've enjoyed running in a small group. With the weather getting colder I've bought myself some longer sleeved tops and bottoms to hopefully allow me to run through the winter. My "Fitness age" is now in the mid 40s, rather than high 60s, so I'm also approaching a point where I'm as fit as I am old, which is nice.

So far, so good, I'm continuing with giving myself an "A+"

3. Finishing projects

This is a much more difficult point for me this year, sadly. I continued to do some work on on NetSurf this quarter. We had another amazing long-weekend where we worked on a whole bunch of NS stuff, and I've even managed to give up some of my other spare time to resolve bugs, though they tend to be quite hard and I'm quite slow. I'm very pleased with how I've done with that.

Lars and I continue to work on our testing project, now called Subplot. Though, frankly, Lars does almost all of the work on this.

I did accidentally start another project (remsync) after buying a reMarkable tablet. So that bumps my score down a half point.

So over-all, this one drops to "C-", from the "C" earlier in the year - still (barely) satisfactory but could do a lot better.

4. Be a net benefit

My efforts for Debian continue to be restricted, though I hope it continues to just about be a net benefit to the project. My efforts with the Lua community have not extended again, so pretty much the same.

I remain invested in Rust stuff, and have managed (just about) to avoid starting in on any other projects, so things are fairly much the same as before. I lead the Rust installer working group and we recently released a huge update to rustup which adds a bunch of desired stuff.

While the effects of my Rust work affect both this and the next section, I am very pleased with how I did and have upgraded myself to an "A-" for this.

5. Give back to the Rust community

I have worked very hard on my Rustup work, and I have also started to review documentation and help updates for the Rust compiler itself. I've become involved in the Sequoia project, at least peripherally, and have attended a developer retreat with them which was both relaxing and productive.

I feel like the effort I'm putting into Rust is being recognised in ways I did not expect nor hope for, but that's very positive and has meant I've engaged even more with the community and feel like I'm making a valuable contribution.

I still hang around on the #wg-rustup Discord channel and other channels on that server, helping where I can, and I've been trying to teach my colleagues about Rust so that they might also contribute to the community.

So initially an 'A', I dropped to an 'A-' last time, but I feel like I've put enough effort in to give myself 'A+' this time.

6. Be better at tidying up

I've managed to do a bit more tidying, but honestly this is still pretty bad. I managed to clean up some stuff, but then it slips back into mess. The habit forming is still not happening. At this point I think I really need to grab the bull by the horns and focus on this one, so it'll be better in the next report I promise.

I'm upgrading to an 'E' because I am making some difference, just not enough.

7. Save up money for renovations

We spent those savings on our renovations, but I do continue to manage to put some away. As you can see in the next section though, I've been spending money on myself too.

I think I get to keep an 'A' here, but only just.

8. Go on a proper holiday

I spent a week with the Sequoia-PGP team in Croatia which was amazing. I have a long weekend planned with them in Barcelona for Rustfest too. Some people would say that those aren't real holidays, but I relaxed, did stuff I enjoyed, tried new things, and even went on a Zip-line in Croatia, so I'm counting it as a win.

While I've not managed to take a holiday with Rob, he's been off to do things independently, so I'm upgrading us to a 'B' here.

Summary

Last quarter I had a B+, A+, C, B, A-, F, A, C+, which ignoring the F is a was better than earlier in the year, though still not great.

This quarter I have a B+, A+, C-, A-, A+, E, A, B. The F has gone which is nice, and I suppose I could therefore call that a fair A- average, or perhaps C+ if I count the E.

RFH: Naming things is hard Daniel Silverstone

As with all things in computing, one of two problems always seem to raise their ugly heads… We either have an off-by-one error, or we have a caching error, or we have a naming problem.

Lars and I have been working on an acceptance testing tool recently. You may have seen the soft launch announcement on Lars' blog. Sadly since that time we've discovered that Fable is an overloaded name in the domain of software quality assurance and we do not want to try and compete with Fable since (a) they were there first, and (b) accessibility is super-important and we don't want to detract from the work they're doing.

As such, this is a request for help. We need to name our tool usefully, since how can we make a git repository until we have a name? Previous incarnations of the tool were called Yarn and we chose Fable to carry on the sense of telling a story (the fundamental unit of testing in these systems is a scenario), but we are not wedded to the idea of continuing in the same vein.

If you have an idea for a name for our tool, please consider reading about it on the Fable website, and then either comment here, or send me an email, prod me on IRC, or indeed any of the various ways you have to find me.

A quarter in review - Halfway to 2020 Daniel Silverstone

The 2019 plan - Second-quarter review

At the start of the year I blogged about my plans for 2019. For those who don't want to go back to read that post, in summary they are:

  1. Continue to lose weight and get fit. I'd like to reach 80kg during the year if I can
  2. Begin a couch to 5k and give it my very best
  3. Focus my software work on finishing projects I have already started
  4. Where I join in other projects be a net benefit
  5. Give back to the @rustlang community because I've gained so much from them already
  6. Be better at tidying up
  7. Save up lots of money for renovations
  8. Go on a proper holiday

At the point that I posted that, I promised myself to do quarterly reviews and so here is the second of those. The first can be found here.

1. Weight loss

So when I wrote in April, I was around 88.6kg and worried about how my body seemed to really like roughly 90kg. This is going to be a similar report. Despite managing to lose 10kg in the first quarter, the second quarter has been harder, and with me focussed on running rather than my full gym routine, loss has been less. I've recently started to push a bit lower though and I'm now around 83kg.

I could really shift my focus back to all-round gym exercise, but honestly I've been enjoying a lot of the spare time returned to me by switching back to my cycling and walking, plus now running a bit. I imagine as the weather returns to its more usual wet mess the gym will return to prominence for me, and with that maybe I'll shed a bit of more of this weight.

I continue give myself a solid "B" for this, though if I were generous, given everything else I might consider a "B+"

2. Couch to 5k

Last time I wrote, I'd just managed a 5k run for the first time. Since then I completed the couch-to-5k programme and have now done eight parkruns. I missed one week due to awful awful weather, but otherwise I've managed to be consistent and attended one parkrun per week. They've all been at the same course apart from one which was in Southampton. This gives me a clean ability to compare runs.

My first parkrun was 30m32s, though I remain aware that the course at Platt Fields is a smidge under 5k really, and I was really pleased with that. However as a colleague explained to me, It never gets easier… Each parkrun is just as hard, if not harder, than the previous one. However to continue his quote, …you just get faster. and I have. Since that first run, I have improved my personal record to 27m34s which is, to my mind at least, bloody brilliant. Even when this week I tried to force myself to go slower, aiming to pace out a 30m run, I ended up at 27m49s.

I am currently trying to convince myself that I can run a bit more slowly and thus increase my distance, but for now I think 5k is a stuck record for me. I'll continue to try and improve that time a little more.

I said last review that I'd be adjusting my goals in the light of how well I'd done with couch-2-5k at that point. Since I've now completed it, I'll be renaming this section the 'Fitness' section and hopefully next review I'll be able to report something other than running in it.

So far, so good, I'm continuing with giving myself an "A+"

3. Finishing projects

I did a bunch more on NetSurf this quarter. We had an amazing long-weekend where we worked on a whole bunch of NS stuff, and I've even managed to give up some of my other spare time to resolve bugs. I'm very pleased with how I've done with that.

Rob and I failed to do much with the pub software, but Lars and I continue to work on the Fable project.

So over-all, this one doesn't get better than the "C" from last time - still satisfactory but could do a lot better.

4. Be a net benefit

My efforts for Debian continue to be restricted, though I hope it continues to just about be a net benefit to the project. My efforts with the Lua community have not extended again, so pretty much the same.

I remain invested in Rust stuff, and have managed (just about) to avoid starting in on any other projects, so things are fairly much the same as before.

I remain doing "okay" here, and I want to be a little more positive than last review, so I'm upgrading to a "B".

5. Give back to the Rust community

My work with Rustup continues, though in the past month or so I've been pretty lax because I've had to travel a lot for work. I continue to be as heavily involved in Rust as I can be -- I've stepped up to the plate to lead the Rustup team, and that puts me into the Rust developer tools team proper. I attended a conference, in part to represent the Rust developer community, and I have some followup work on that which I still need to complete.

I still hang around on the #wg-rustup Discord channel and other channels on that server, helping where I can, and I've been trying to teach my colleagues about Rust so that they might also contribute to the community.

Previously I gave myself an 'A' but thought I could manage an 'A+' if I tried harder. Since I've been a little lax recently I'm dropping myself to an 'A-'.

6. Be better at tidying up

Once again, I came out of the previous review fired up to tidy more. Once again, that energy ebbed after about a week. Every time I feel like I might have the mental space to begin building a cleaning habit, something comes along to knock the wind out of my sails. Sometimes that's a big work related thing, but sometimes it's something as small as "Our internet connection is broken, so suddenly instead of having time to clean, I have no time because it's broken and so I can't do anything, even things which don't need an internet connection."

This remains an "F" for fail, sadly.

7. Save up money for renovations

The savings process continues. I've not managed to put quite as much away in this quarter as I did the quarter before, but I have been doing as much as I can. I've finally consolidated most of my savings into one place which also makes them look a little healthier.

The renovations bills continue to loom, but we're doing well, so I think I get to keep the "A" here.

8. Go on a proper holiday

Well, I had that week "off" but ended up doing so much stuff that it doesn't count as much of a holiday. Rob is now in Japan, but I've not managed to take the time as a holiday because my main project at work needs me there since our project manager and his usual stand-in are both also away in Japan.

We have made a basic plan to take some time around the August Bank Holiday to perhaps visit family etc, so I'm going to upgrade us to "C+" since we're making inroads, even if we've not achieved a holiday yet.

Summary

Last quarter, my scores were B, A+, C, B-, A, F, A, C, which, if we ignore the F is an average of A, though the F did ruin things a little.

This quarter I have a B+, A+, C, B, A-, F, A, C+, which ignoring the F is a little better, though still not great. I guess here's to another quarter.

A quarter in review Daniel Silverstone

The 2019 plan - First-quarter review

At the start of the year I blogged about my plans for 2019. For those who don't want to go back to read that post, in summary they are:

  1. Continue to lose weight and get fit. I'd like to reach 80kg during the year if I can
  2. Begin a couch to 5k and give it my very best
  3. Focus my software work on finishing projects I have already started
  4. Where I join in other projects be a net benefit
  5. Give back to the @rustlang community because I've gained so much from them already
  6. Be better at tidying up
  7. Save up lots of money for renovations
  8. Go on a proper holiday

At the point that I posted that, I promised myself to do quarterly reviews and so here is the first of those. I am a few days late/early depending on your view of things, but today seems a good day to do this since it's the day before my 39th birthday.

1. Weight loss

I started the year at 101.7kg, and when I posted my plans I was 101.3kg which wasn't the best start to the year. My goal is 80kg this year, and when I started I figured that'd be pretty easy to achieve given my previous 6 months or so of consistent weight loss. Sadly that has not proven out. It is harder to lose weight as you get lighter; the more you lose the harder it gets.

I started the year out pretty strong, reaching 90kg in early March. Sadly my body seems to really like 90kg. It's not really a "set point" in that I can easily gain weight from there, but losing weight from 90kg has proven to be really tough for me. Since that first time dipping to 90kg in early March, I've been up as high as 91.5kg and down as low as 87.5kg, though I'm currently 88.6kg.

Previously on weight plateaus, I've been able to kick-start loss again either by doing a stronger fast for a few days, or by eating more for a week and then returning to my loss-level diet. This hasn't worked in the past month yet.

Since this month includes when my father was very unwell before ultimately dying last year, and also my birthday, I figure that I'm going to end this plateau with a huge pig-out on protein tomorrow for my birthday and then going somewhat strict with myself for a few weeks to try and get things going again. I know that by my goal estimate, I have basically 8 months to lose 8kg, but I ought to be able to do that in 4 months or even less if I try harder.

Other fitness goals have been sidelined in favour of the couch-to-5k effort (see below) but perhaps in my next review things will change…

I give myself a solid "B" for this

2. Couch to 5k

This was started, and I have been doing my best. It has been a really interesting experience since it has taught me that the "training wall" really exists. One week a while ago, I hit it really hard, and had to stop my run about 10m in, because I simply could not make my legs go any further. Since then I've reduced the amount of non c25k training I do, and that has allowed my body the time to adapt to running more effectively.

I managed a 5k run for the very first time last Thursday, and I'll be attempting another on Thursday of this week. I'm amazed at my progress and super-proud of being able to say that I have pretty much nailed this one down. I have hopes that at the next checkin I'll to have to say that I've met my goal (a parkrun in May, running the whole thing) and so be setting a different fitness goal for the rest of the year.

So far, so good, I'm giving myself an "A+"

3. Finishing projects

I managed to sort things so that Gitano won't drop out of Debian, and I've done a bit more on NetSurf than I did previously, but in the past quarter I've not done a lot on the pub software I mentioned at the start of the year.

Rob and I have booked off a chunk of April, so perhaps I'll get a chance to do some of that then.

Sadly, I've also started a bunch of projects, including beginning to plan work with Lars on a Yarn re-design.

So over-all, this one gets a "C" - satisfactory but could do a lot better.

4. Be a net benefit

I have restricted what projects I am part of this year. My presence in Debian I think just about counts as a net-benefit to the project, but it's a pretty slim margin.

I do my best on the Lua community support (ML, webhosting, etc) but I've not really been a part of the community for a couple of years now. I'd like to think they still appreciate my efforts, but that's about it.

I've really heavily invested my efforts into Rust related stuff as you will see.

I think that, over all, I'm doing okay here, a "B-" since I could do better but I'm not negative-impact anywhere to my knowledge.

5. Give back to the Rust community

This is one software/community place where I think I've done pretty well. I started the year looking at various parts of the Rust ecosystem, but ended up settled into Rustup where I joined the working group and began in earnest to help deal with issues and improve what I see to be the gateway to the Rust ecosystem.

As you will know if you follow this blog, I ended up making the Rustup 1.17.0 release, which was a nerve-wracking experience that I will do better with next time. Fortunately the community is amazing and they were super-forgiving of my cockup.

I also hang around on the #wg-rustup Discord channel and other channels on that server, helping where I can. I've been running the Rustup working group weekly meetings, and I feel like I've made a pretty positive impact on things. Rustup is a slow moving tool which we try and change only conservatively, but it is a critical part of the experience of the Rust ecosystem so we do want to make it as good as it can be.

All in all, I think I deserve an "A" for my efforts here. I could do a bit more and that'd give me the "+" but for now I'm satisfied.

6. Be better at tidying up

I started the year out strongly, doing well at this, but over the months I've slipped back into my bad habits. I'm still very bad at this part of "adulting" and have nothing useful to report beyond "Trying to develop multiple habits simultaneously is super-hard". I think that once the c25k effort is over and I can reduce my running efforts, resuming "normal" gym routines etc, I may have some mental energy left to try and develop better tidying habits.

All in all this is a big fat "F" for fail.

7. Save up money for renovations

I believe that I've been doing pretty well at this. Since I don't go out much, I don't eat out anywhere near as much as I used to, and I don't generally buy toys (e.g. I recently got an upgraded graphics card for free because Rob decided he needed a shinier one and so I got a hand-me-down), I've been able to put a good chunk of cash away. Not enough yet for a new kitchen, but it's getting there slowly. Of course, the next point might eat away a good chunk of it…

I'm giving myself an "A" for this, because I do have a pretty healthy looking savings account, even if I can see all the looming bills for renovations.

8. Go on a proper holiday

Well, this one hasn't happened yet, though I do have a week off booked for after easter, that's in next quarter so I'm guessing it doesn't count for now.

Rob will be off to Japan in the summer, so perhaps I'll take some time off at that point to have a break. Of course, with Rob away, it'd be a staycation which isn't quite what I had in mind, so who knows what I'll do instead. I'm so much of a homebody that a staycation is still a good holiday in my view, but it's not what I meant when I said a "proper holiday" since that needs to be a break from all the "normal" stuff in my view.

Giving myself a "C" here because I've not failed at it, but I've not made major inroads into planning or somesuch.

Summary

All-in-all I think I've done pretty well. My scores are B, A+, C, B-, A, F, A, C, which, if we ignore the F is an average of A, though the F does ruin things a little. Hopefully in another 3 months I'll be able to report better progress.

Releasing Rustup 1.17.0 Daniel Silverstone

Today marks the release of rustup version 1.17.0 which is both the first version of rustup which I have contributed code to, and also the first version which I was responsible for preparing the release of. I thought I ought to detail the experience, but first, a little background…

At the end of last year, leading into this year, I made some plans which included an explicit statement to "give back" to the Rust community as I'd received a lot of help with, and enjoyment in, Rust from the community over the previous couple of years. I looked for ways I could contribute, including making a tiny wording PR against the compiler which I won't even bother linking here, but eventually I decided to try and help with the rust-lang/rustup.rs repository and tried to tackle some of the issues therein.

Nick Cameron was, at the time, about to step down as a lead of the tools team and he ended up talking to me about maybe joining a working group to look after Rustup. I agreed and a little earlier this year, I became part of the Rustup working group, which is a sub-group of the Cargo team, part of the Rust developer tools teams.

Over the past few weeks we've been preparing a new release of Rustup to include some useful bug fixes and a few little feature tweaks. Rustup is not as glamorous a part of the ecosystem as perhaps Cargo or Rustc itself, but it's just as important I think, since it's the primary gateway through which people acquire Rust, and interact with the Rust toolchain ecosystem.

On Tuesday evening, as part of our weekly meeting, we discussed the 1.17.0 release plans and process, and since I'm very bad at stepping back at the right moment, I ended up volunteering to run the release checklist through and push 1.17.0 out of the door. Thankfully, between Nick and Alex Crichton we had a good set of instructions and so I set about making the release. I prepared a nice series of commits updating the version numbers, ensuring the lock file was up to date, making the shell script installer frontend include the right version numbers, and pushed them off to be built by the CI. Unfortunately a break in a library we depend on, which only showed its face on our mingw builders (not normally part of the CI since there are so few available to the org) meant that I had to reissue the build and go to bed.

Note that I said I had to go to bed - this was nearing midnight and I was due up before 7am the following day. This might give you some impression of the state of mind I was in trying to do this release and thus perhaps a hint of where I'm going to be going with this post…

In the morning, I checked and the CI pipelines had gone green, so I waited until Alex showed up (since he was on UTC-6) and as soon as I spotted him online, around 14:45 UTC, I pinged him and he pushed the button to prep the release after we did a final check that things looked okay together. The release went live at 14:47 UTC.

And by 15:00 UTC we'd found a previously unnoticed bug - in the shell installer frontend - that I had definitely tested the night before. A "that can't possibly have ever worked" kind of bug which was breaking any CI job which downloaded rustup from scratch. Alex deployed a hotfix straight to the dist server at 15:06 UTC to ensure that as few people as possible encountered the issue, though we did get one bug report (filed a smidge later at 15:15 UTC) about it.

By this point I was frantic - I KNEW that I'd tested this code, so how on earth was it broken? I went rummaging back through the shell history on the system where I'd done the testing, reconstructing the previous night's fevered testing process and eventually discovered what had gone wrong. I'd been diffing the 1.16.0 and 1.17.0 releases and had somehow managed to test the OLD shell frontend rather than the new one. So the change to it which broke the world hadn't been noticed by me at that point.

I sorted a fix PR out and we now have some issues open regarding ensuring that this never happens again. But what can we do to ensure that the next release goes more smoothly? For one, we need as a team to work out how to run mingw tests more regularly, and ideally on the PRs. For two, we need to work out how we can better test, the shell frontend which is currently only manually verified, under CI when its sole purpose is to download rustup from the Internet, making it a bit of a pain to verify in a CI environment.

But… we will learn, we will grow, and we won't make these mistakes again. I had been as careful as I thought I could be in preparing 1.17.0, and I still had two painful spikes, one from uncommonly run CI, and one from untested code. No matter how careful one is, one can still be bitten by things.

On a lighter note, for those who use rustup and wonder what's in 1.17.0 over the previous (1.16.0) release, here's a simplified view onto a mere subset of the changes...

  • Better formatting of long download times. Manish Goregaokar
  • Various improvements to rustup-init.sh. Lzu Tao
  • A variety of error message improvements. Hirokazu Hata
  • Prevent panic on missing components. Nick Cameron
  • Support non-utf8 arguments in proxies. Andy Russell
  • More support for homebrew. Markus Reiter
  • Support for more documents in rustup doc. Wang Kong
  • Display progress during component unpack. Daniel Silverstone
  • Don't panic on bad default-host. Daniel Silverstone
  • A variety of code cleanups and fixes. So many of them. Dale Wijnand
  • Better error reporting for missing binaries. Alik Aslanyan
  • Documentation of, and testing for, powershell completions. Matt Gucci
  • Various improvements to display of information in things like rustup default or rustup status. Trevor Miranda
  • Ignoring of EPIPE in certain circumstances to improve scripting use of rustup. Niklas Claesson
  • Deprecating cURL in rustup's download internal crate. Trevor Miranda
  • Error message improvements wrt. unavailable components. Daniel Silverstone
  • Improvements in component listing API for better automation. Naftuli Kay

If I missed your commits out, it doesn't mean I thought they weren't important, it merely means I am lazy

As you can see, we had a nice selection of contributors, from Rustup WG members, to drive-by typo fixes (unlisted for the most part) to some excellent new contributors who are being more and more involved as time passes.

We have plenty of plans for 1.18.0, mostly centered around tidying up the codebase more, getting rid of legacies in the code where we can, and making it easier to see the wood for the trees as we bring rustup up-to-snuff as a modern part of the Rust ecosystem.

If you'd like to participate in Rustup development, why not join us on our discord server? You can visit https://discord.gg/rust-lang and once you've jumped through some of the anti-spam hoops (check your DMs on joining) you can come along to #wg-rustup and we'll be pleased to have you help. Failing that, you can always just open issues or PRs on https://github.com/rust-lang/rustup.rs if you have something useful to contribute.

Plans for 2019 Daniel Silverstone

At the end of last year I made eight statements about what I wanted to do throughout 2019. I tried to split them semi-evenly between being a better adult human and being a better software community contributor. I have had a few weeks now to settle my thoughts around what they mean and I'd like to take some time to go through the eight and discuss them a little more.

I've been told that doing this reduces the chance of me sticking to the points because simply announcing the points and receiving any kind of positive feedback may stunt my desire to actually achieve the goals. I'm not sure about that though, and I really want my wider friends community to help keep me honest about them all. I've set a reminder for April 7th to review the situation and hopefully be able to report back positively on my progress.


My list of goals was stated in a pair of tweets:

  1. Continue to lose weight and get fit. I'd like to reach 80kg during the year if I can
  2. Begin a couch to 5k and give it my very best
  3. Focus my software work on finishing projects I have already started
  4. Where I join in other projects be a net benefit
  5. Give back to the @rustlang community because I've gained so much from them already
  6. Be better at tidying up
  7. Save up lots of money for renovations
  8. Go on a proper holiday

Weight and fitness

Some of you may be aware already, others may not, that I have been making an effort to shed some of my excess weight over the past six or seven months. I "started" in May of 2018 weighing approximately 141kg and I am, as of this morning, weighing approximately 101kg. Essentially that's a semi-steady rate of 5kg per month, though it has, obviously, been slowing down of late.

In theory, given my height of roughly 178cm I should aim for a weight of around 70kg. I am trying to improve my fitness and to build some muscle and as such I'm aiming long-term for roughly 75kg. My goal for this year is to continue my improvement and to reach and maintain 80kg or better. I think this will make a significant difference to my health and my general wellbeing. I'm already sleeping better on average, and I feel like I have more energy over all. I bought a Garmin Vivoactive 3 and have been using that to track my general health and activity. My resting heart rate has gone down a few BPM over the past six months, and I can see my general improvement in sleep etc over that time too. I bought a Garmin Index Scale to track my weight and body composition, and that is also showing me good values as well as encouraging me to weigh myself every day and to learn how to interpret the results.

I've been managing my weight loss partly by means of a 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol, combined with a steady calorie deficit of around 1000kcal/day. While this sounds pretty drastic, I was horrendously overweight and this was critical to getting my weight to shift quickly. I expect I'll reduce that deficit over the course of the year, hence I'm only aiming for a 20kg drop over a year rather than trying to maintain what could in theory be a drop of 30kg or more.

In addition to the IF/deficit, I have been more active. I bought an e-bike and slowly got going on that over the summer, along with learning to enjoy walks around my local parks and scrubland. Since the weather got bad enough that I didn't want to be out of doors I joined a gym where I have been going regularly since September. Since the end of October I have been doing a very basic strength training routine and my shoulders do seem to be improving for it. I can still barely do a pushup but it's less embarassingly awful than it was.

Given my efforts toward my fitness, my intention this year is to extend that to include a Couch to 5k type effort. Amusingly, Garmin offer a self adjusting "coach" called Garmin Coach which I will likely use to guide me through the process. While I'm not committing to any, maybe I'll get involved in some parkruns this year too. I'm not committing to reach an ability to run 5k because, quite simply, my bad leg may not let me, but I am committing to give it my best. My promise to myself was to start some level of jogging once I hit 100kg, so that's looking likely by the end of this month. Maybe February is when I'll start the c25k stuff in earnest.

Adulting

I have put three items down in this category to get better at this year. One is a big thing for our house. I am, quite simply put, awful at tidying up. I leave all sorts of things lying around and I am messy and lazy. I need to fix this. My short-term goal in this respect is to pick one room of the house where the mess is mostly mine, and learn to keep it tidy before my checkpoint in April. I think I'm likely to choose the Study because it's where others of my activities for this year will centre and it's definitely almost entirely my mess in there. I'm not yet certain how I'll learn to do this, but it has been a long time coming and I really do need to. It's not fair to my husband for me to be this awful all the time.

The second of these points is to explicitly save money for renovations. Last year we had a new bathroom installed and I've been seriously happy about that. We will need to pay that off this year (we have the money, we're just waiting as long as we can to earn the best interest on it first) and then I'll want to be saving up for another spot of renovations. I'd like to have the kitchen and dining room done - new floor, new units and sink in the kitchen, fix up the messy wall in the dining room, have them decorated, etc. I imagine this will take quite a bit of 2019 to save for, but hopefully this time next year I'll be saying that we managed that and it's time for the next part of the house.

Finally I want to take a proper holiday this year. It has been a couple of years since Rob and I went to Seoul for a month, and while that was excellent, it was partly "work from home" and so I'd like to take a holiday which isn't also a conference, or working from home, or anything other than relaxation and seeing of interesting things. This will also require saving for, so I imagine we won't get to do it until mid to late 2019, but I feel like this is part of a general effort I've been making to take care of myself more. The fitness stuff above being physical, but a proper holiday being part of taking better care of my mental health.

Software, Hardware, and all the squishy humans in between

2018 was not a great year for me in terms of getting projects done. I have failed to do almost anything with Gitano and I did not doing well with Debian or other projects I am part of. As such, I'm committing to do better by my projects in 2019.

First, and foremost, I'm pledging to focus my efforts on finishing projects which I've already started. I am very good at thinking "Oh, that sounds fun" and starting something new, leaving old projects by the wayside and not getting them to any state of completion. While software is never entirely "done", I do feel like I should get in-progress projects to a point that others can use them and maybe contribute too.

As such, I'll be making an effort to sort out issues which others have raised in Gitano (though I doubt I'll do much more feature development for it) so that it can be used by NetSurf and so that it doesn't drop out of Debian. Since the next release of Debian is due soon, I will have to pull my finger out and get this done pretty soon.

I have been working, on and off, with Rob on a new point-of-sale for our local pub Ye Olde Vic and I am committing to get it done to a point that we can experiment with using it in the pub by the summer. Also I was working on a way to measure fluid flow through a pipe so that we can correlate the pulled beer with the sales and determine wastage etc. I expect I'll get back to the "beer'o'meter" once the point-of-sale work is in place and usable. I am not going to commit to getting it done this year, but I'd like to make a dent in the remaining work for it.

I have an on-again off-again relationship with some code I wrote quite a while ago when learning Rust. I am speaking of my Yarn implementation called (imaginatively) rsyarn. I'd like to have that project reworked into something which can be used with Cargo and associated tooling nicely so that running cargo test in a Rust project can result in running yarns as well.

There may be other projects which jump into this category over the year, but those listed above are the ones I'm committing to make a difference to my previous lackadaisical approach.

On a more community-minded note, one of my goals is to ensure that I'm always a net benefit to any project I join or work on in 2019. I am very aware that in a lot of cases, I provide short drive-by contributions to projects which can end up costing that project more than I gave them in benefit. I want to stop that behaviour and instead invest more effort into fewer projects so that I always end up a net benefit to the project in question. This may mean spending longer to ensure that an issue I file has enough in it that I may not need to interact with it again until verification of a correct fix is required. It may mean spending time fixing someone elses' issues so that there is the engineering bandwidth for someone else to fix mine. I can't say for sure how this will manifest, beyond being up-front and requesting of any community I decide to take part in, that they tell me if I end up costing more than I'm bringing in benefit.

Rust and the Rust community

I've mentioned Rust above, and this is perhaps the most overlappy of my promises for 2019. I want to give back to the Rust community because over the past few years as I've learned Rust and learned more and more about the community, I've seen how much of a positive effect they've had on my life. Not just because they made learning a new programming langauge so enjoyable, but because of the community's focus on programmers as human beings. The fantastic documentation ethics, and the wonderfully inclusive atmosphere in the community meant that I managed to get going with Rust so much more effectively than with almost any other language I've ever tried to learn since Lua.

I have, since Christmas, been slowly involving myself in the Rust community more and more. I joined one of the various Discord servers and have been learning about how crates.io is managed and I have been contributing to rustup.rs which is the initial software interface most Rust users encounter and forms such an integral part of the experience of the ecosystem that I feel it's somewhere I can make a useful impact.

While I can't say a significant amount more right now, I hope I'll be able to blog more in the future on what I'm up to in the Rust community and how I hope that will benefit others already in, and interested in joining, the fun that is programming in Rust.


In summary, I hope at least some of you will help to keep me honest about my intentions for 2019, and if, in return, I can help you too, please feel free to let me know.

Docker Compose Daniel Silverstone

I glanced back over my shoulder to see the Director approaching. Zhe stood next to me, watched me intently for a few moments, before turning and looking out at the scape. The water was preturnaturally calm, above it only clear blue. A number of dark, almost formless, shapes were slowly moving back and forth beneath the surface.

"Is everything in readiness?" zhe queried, sounding both impatient and resigned at the same time. "And will it work?" zhe added. My predecessor, and zir predecessor before zem, had attempted to reach the same goal now set for myself.

"I believe so" I responded, sounding perhaps slightly more confident than I felt. "All the preparations have been made, everything is in accordance with what has been written". The director nodded, zir face pinched, with worry writ across it.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, opened them, raised my hand and focussed on the scape, until it seemed to me that my hand was almost floating on the water. With all of my strength of will I formed the incantation, repeating it over and over in my mind until I was sure that I was ready. I released it into the scape and dropped my arm.

The water began to churn, the blue above darkening rapidly, becoming streaked with grey. The shapes beneath the water picked up speed and started to grow, before resolving to what appeared to be stylised Earth whales. Huge arcs of electricity speared the water, a screaming, crashing, wall of sound rolled over us as we watched, a foundation rose up from the depths on the backs of the whale-like shapes wherever the lightning struck.

Chunks of goodness-knows-what rained down from the grey streaked morass, thumping into place seamlessly onto the foundations, slowly building what I had envisioned. I started to allow myself to feel hope, things were going well, each tower of the final solution was taking form, becoming the slick and clean visions of function which I had painstakingly selected from among the masses of clamoring options.

Now and then, the whale-like shapes would surface momentarily near one of the towers, stringing connections like bunting across the water, until the final design was achieved. My shoulders tightened and I raised my hand once more. As I did so, the waters settled, the grey bled out from the blue, and the scape became calm and the towers shone, each in its place, each looking exactly as it should.

Chanting the second incantation under my breath, over and over, until it seemed seared into my very bones, I released it into the scape and watched it flow over the towers, each one ringing out as the command reached it, until all the towers sang, producing a resonant and consonant chord which rose of its own accord, seeming to summon creatures from the very waters in which the towers stood.

The creatures approached the towers, reached up as one, touched the doors, and screamed in horror as their arms caught aflame. In moments each and every creature was reduced to ashes, somehow fundamentally unable to make use of the incredible forms I had wrought. The Director sighed heavily, turned, and made to leave. The towers I had sweated over the design of for months stood proud, beautiful, worthless.

I also turned, made my way out of the realisation suite, and with a sigh hit the scape-purge button on the outer wall. It was over. The grand design was flawed. Nothing I created in this manner would be likely to work in the scape and so the most important moment of my life was lost to ruin, just as my predecessor, and zir predecessor before zem.

Returning to my chambers, I snatched up the book from my workbench. The whale-like creature winking to me from the cover, grinning, as though it knew what I had tried to do and relished my failure. I cast it into the waste chute and went back to my drafting table to design new towers, towers which might be compatible with the creatures which were needed to inhabit them and breath life into their very structure, towers which would involve no grinning whales.

Runtime typing Daniel Silverstone

I have been wrestling with a problem for a little while now and thought I might send this out into the ether for others to comment upon. (Or, in other words, Dear Lazyweb…)

I am writing system which collects data from embedded computers in my car (ECUs) over the CAN bus, using the on-board diagnostics port in the vehicle. This requires me to generate packets on the CAN bus, listen to responses, including managing flow control, and then interpret the resulting byte arrays.

I have sorted everything but the last little bit of that particular data pipeline. I have a prototype which can convert the byte arrays into "raw" values by interpreting them either as bitfields and producing booleans, or as anything from an unsigned 8 bit integer to a signed 32 bit integer in either endianness. Fortunately none of the fields I'd need to interpret are floats.

This is, however, pretty clunky and nasty. Since I asked around and a majority of people would prefer that I keep the software configurable at runtime rather than doing meta-programming to describe these fields, I need to develop a way to have the data produced by reading these byte arrays (or by processing results already interpreted out of the arrays) type-checked.

As an example, one field might be the voltage of the main breaker in the car. It's represented as a 16 bit big-endian unsigned field, in tenths of a volt. So the field must be divided by ten and then given the type "volts". Another field is the current passing through that main breaker. This is a 16 bit big-endian signed value measured in tenths of an amp, so must be interpreted as as such, divided by ten, and then given the type "amps". I intend for all values handled beyond the raw byte arrays themselves to simply be floats, so there'll be signedness available regardless.

What I'd like, is to later have a "computed" value, let's call it "power flow", which is the voltage multiplied by the current. Naturally this would need to be given the type 'watts'. What I'd dearly love is to build into my program the understanding that volts times amps equals watts, and then have the reader of the runtime configuration type-check the function for "power flow".

I'm working on this in Rust, though for now the language is less important than the algorithms involved in doing this (unless you know of a Rust library which will help me along). I'd dearly love it if someone out there could help me to understand the right way to handle such expression type checking without having to build up a massively complex type system.

Currently I am considering things (expressed for now in yaml) along the lines of:

- name: main_voltage
  type: volts
  expr: u16_be(raw_bmc, 14) / 10
- name: main_current
  type: amps
  expr: i16_be(raw_bmc, 12) / 10
- name: power_flow
  type: watts
  expr: main_voltage * main_current

What I'd like is for each expression to be type-checked. I'm happy for untyped scalars to end up auto-labelled (so the u16_be() function would return an untyped number which then ends up marked as volts since 10 is also untyped). However when power_flow is typechecked, it should be able to work out that the type of the expression is volts * amps which should then typecheck against watts and be accepted. Since there's also consideration needed for times, distances, booleans, etc. this is not a completely trivial thing to manage. I will know the set of valid types up-front though, so there's that at least.

If you have any ideas, ping me on IRC or perhaps blog a response and then drop me an email to let me know about it.

Thanks in advance.

Epic Journey in my Ioniq Daniel Silverstone

This weekend just-gone was my father's 90th birthday, so since we don't go to Wales very often, we figured we should head down to visit. As this would be our first major journey in the Ioniq (I've done Manchester to Cambridge a few times now, but this is almost 3 times further) we took an additional day off (Friday) so that we could easily get from our home in southern Manchester to my parent's house in St Davids, Pembrokeshire.

I am not someone to enter into these experiences lightly. I spent several hours consulting with zap-map and also Google maps, looking at chargers en-route. In the UK there's a significant number of chargers on the motorway system provided by Ecotricity but this infrastructure is not pervasive and doesn't really extend beyond the motorway service stations (and some IKEAs). I made my plan for the journey to Wales, ensuring that each planned stop was simply the first in a line of possible stops in order that if something went wrong, I'd have enough charge to move forwards from there.

First leg took us from our home to the Ecotricity charger at Hilton Park Southbound services. My good and dear friend Tim very kindly offered to charge us for free and he used one of his fifty-two free charges to top us up. This went flawlessly and set us in a very good mood for the journey to come. Since we would then have a very long jump from the M5 to the M4, we decided that our second charge would be to top-up at Chateau Impney which has a Polar charger. Unfortunately by this point the wind and rain were up and the charger failed to work properly, eventually telling us that its input voltages were unbalanced and then powering itself off entirely. We decided to head to the other Polar charger at Webbs of Wychbold. That charger started up fine so we headed in, had a loo visit, grabbed some lunch, watched the terrapins swimming around, and when a sufficient time had passed for the car to charge, headed back only to discover that it had emergency-stopped mere moments after we'd left the car, so we had no charge for the entire time we were there. No matter we thought - we'd sit in the car while it charged, and eat our lunch. Sadly we were defeated, the charger repeatedly e-stopped, so we gave up.

Our fallback position was to charge at the Strensham services at the M5/M50 junction. Sadly the southbound services have no chargers at all (they're under a lot of building work right now, so perhaps that's part of it) so we had to get to the northbound services and charge there. That charge went fine, and with a £2.85 bill from Ecotricity automatically paid, we snuck our way along back-roads and secret junctions to the southbound services, and headed off down the M50. Sadly we're now a lot later than we should have been, having lost about ninety minutes in total to the wasted time at the two Polar chargers, which meant that we hit a lot of congestion at Monmouth and around Newport on the M4.

We made it to Cardiff Gate where we plugged in, set it charging, and then headed into the service area where we happened to meet my younger brother who was heading home too. He went off, and I looked at the Ecotricity app on my phone which had decided at that point that I wasn't charging at all. I went out to check, the charger was still delivering current, so, chalking it up to a bit of a de-sync, we went in, had a coffee and a relax, and then headed out to the car to wait for it to finish charging. It finished, we unplugged, and headed out. But to this day I've not been charged by Ecotricity for that so "yay".

Our final stop along the M4 was Swansea West. Unfortunately the Pont Abraham services don't have a rapid charger compatible with my car so we have to stop earlier. Fortunately there are three chargers at Swansea West. Unfortunately the CCS was plugged into an i3 which wasn't charging but was set to keep the connector locked in so I couldn't snarf it. I plugged into a slower (AC) charger to get a bit of juice while we went in to wait for the i3 owner to leave. I nipped out after 10 minutes and conveniently they'd gone, so I swapped the car over to the CCS charger and set it going. 37 minutes later and that charger had actually worked, charged me up, and charged me a princely £5.52 for the privilege.

From here we nipped along the A48/A40, dropped in on my sister-in-law to collect a gift for my father, and then got to St Davids at around nine pm. A mere eleven hours after we left Manchester. By comparison, when I drove a Passat, I would leave Manchester at 3pm, drive 100 fewer miles, and arrive at around 9pm, having had a few nice stops for loo breaks and dinner.

Saturday it had been raining quite hard overnight, St Davids has one (count it, ONE) charger compatible with my car (type 2 in this instance) but fortunately it's free to use (please make donation in the tourist-information-office). Unfortunately after the rain, the parking space next to the charger was under a non-trivial amount of water, so poor Rob had to mountaineer next to the charger to plug in without drowning. We set the car charging and went to have a nice breakfast in St Davids. A few hours later, I wandered back up to the car park with Rob and we unplugged and retrieved the car. Top marks for the charger, but a pity the space was a swimming pool.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early we headed out to Llandewi Velfrey to visit my brother who runs Silverstone Green Energy. We topped up there and then headded to Sarn Parc at his suggestion. It's a nice service area, unfortunately the AC/Chademo charger was giving 'Remote Start Error' so the Leaf there was on the Chademo/CCS charger. However as luck would have it, that charger was on free-vend, so once we got on the charger (30m later or so) we got to charge for free. Thanks Ecotricity.

From Sarn Parc, we decided that since we'd had such a good experience at Strensham North, we'd go directly there. We arrived with 18m to spare in the "tank" but unfortunately the CCS/Chademo charger was broken (with an error along the lines of PWB1 is 0x0008) and there was an eGolf there which also had wanted to use CCS but had to charge slowly in order to get enough range to get to another charger. As a result we had to sit there for an hour to wait for him to have enough in his 'tank' that he was prepared to let us charge. We then got a "full" 45 minute charge (£1.56, 5.2kWh) which gave us enough to get north again to Chateau Impney (which had been marked working again on Zap-map).

The charge there worked fine (yay) so we drove on north to Keele services. We arrived in the snow/hail/rain (yay northern weather) found the charger, plugged in, tried to set it going using the app, and we were told "Unable to contact charger". So I went through the process again and we were told "Charger in use". It bloody well wasn't in use, because I was plugged into it and it definitely wasn't charging my car. We waited for the rain to die down again and looked at the charger, which at that moment said "Connect vehicle" and then it started up charging the car (yay). We headed in for a loo and dinner break. Unfortunately the app couldn't report on progress but it had started charging so we were confident we'd be fine. More fool us. It had stopped charging moments after we'd left the car and once again we wasted time because it wasn't charging when we thought it was. We returned, discovered the car hadn't charged, but then discovered the charger had switched to free-vend so we charged up again for free, but that was another 40 minute wait.

Finally we got home (via a short stop at the pub) and on Monday I popped along to a GMEV rapid charger, and it worked perfectly as it has every single time I've used it.

So, in conclusion, the journey was reasonably cheap, which is nice, but we had two failed charge attempts on Polar, and several Ecotricity cockups (though they did mostly end up in our favour in terms of money) which cost us around 90 to 120 minutes in each direction. The driving itself (in the Ioniq) was fine and actually meant I wasn't frazzled and unhappy the whole time, but the charging infrastructure is simply not good enough. It's unreliable, Ecotricity don't have support lines at the weekend (or evenings/early mornings), and is far too sparse to be useful when one wishes to travel somewhere not on the motorway network. If I'd tried to drive my usual route, I'd have had to spend four hours in Aberystwyth using my granny charger to put about 40 miles in the tank from a public 3 pin socket.

Introducing 석진 the car Daniel Silverstone

For many years now, I have been driving a diesel based VW Passat Estate. It has served me very well and been as reliable as I might have hoped given how awful I am with cars. Sadly Gunther was reaching the point where it was going to cost more per year to maintain than the car was worth, and also I've been being more and more irked by not having a car from the future.

I spent many months doing spreadsheets, trying to convince myself I could somehow afford a Tesla of some variety. Sadly I never quite managed it. As such I set my sights on the more viable BEVs such as the Nissan Leaf. For a while, nothing I saw was something I wanted. I am quite unusual it seems, in that I don't want a car which is a "Look at me, I'm driving an electric car" fashion statement. I felt like I'd never get something which looked like a normal car, but happened to be a BEV.

Then along came the Hyundai Ioniq. Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and BEV all looking basically the same, and not in-your-face-special. I began to covet. Eventually I caved and arranged a test drive of an Ioniq plug-in hybrid because the BEV was basically on 9 month lead. I enjoyed the drive and was instantly very sad because I didn't want a plug-in hybrid, I wanted a BEV. Despondent, I left the dealership and went home.

I went online and found a small number of second-hand Ioniq BEVs but as I scrolled through the list, none seemed to be of the right trim level. Then, just as I was ready to give up hope, I saw a new listing, no photo, of the right thing. One snag, it was 200 miles away. No matter, I rang the place, confirmed it was available, and agreed to sleep on the decision.

The following morning, I hadn't decided to not buy, so I called them up, put down a deposit to hold the car until I could test drive it, and then began the long and awkward process of working out how I would charge the car given I have no off-street parking so I can't charge at home. (Yeah yeah, you'd think I'd have checked that first, but no I'm just not that sensible). Over the week I convinced myself I could do it, I ordered RFID cards for various schemes, signed up with a number of services, and then, on Friday last week, I drove down to a hotel near the dealership and had a fitful night's sleep.

I rocked up to the dealership exactly as they opened for business, shook the hand of the very helpful salesman who had gone through the purchase process with me over the phone during the week, and got to see the car. Instant want coursed through me as I sat in it and decided "Yes, this somehow feels right".

I took the car for about a 45 minute test drive just to see how it felt relative to the plug-in hybrid I'd driven the week before and it was like night and day. The BEV felt so much better to drive. I was hooked. Back to the dealership and we began the paperwork. Emptying Gunther of all of the bits and bobs scattered throughout his nooks and crannies took a while and gave me a chance to say goodbye to a car which, on reflection, had actually been a pleasure to own, even when its expensive things went wrong, more than once. But once I'd closed the Passat for the last time, and handed the keys over, it was quite a bittersweet moment as the salesman drove off in what still felt like my car, despite (by this point) it not being so.

Sitting in the Ioniq though, I headed off for the 200 mile journey back home. With about 90% charge left after the test drive, I had two stops planned at rapid chargers and I headed toward my first.

Unfortunately disaster struck, the rapid (50KW) charger refused to initialise, and I ended up with my car on the slower (7KW) charger to get enough juice into it to drive on to the next rapid charger enabled service station. When I got the message that my maximum charge period (45m) had elapsed, I headed back to the car to discover I couldn't persuade it to unlock from the car. Much hassle later, and an AA man came and together we learned that it takes 2 to tango, one to pull the emergency release in the boot, the other to then unplug the cable.

Armed with this knowledge, I headed on my way to a rapid charger I'd found on the map which wasn't run by the same company. Vainly hoping that this would work better, I plugged the car in, set the charger going, and headed into the adjacent shop for a rest break. I went back to the car about 20 minutes later to see the charger wasn't running. Horror of horrors. I imagined maybe some nasty little oik had pressed 'stop' so I started the charger up again, and sat in the car to read my book. After about 3 minutes, the charge stopped. Turns out that charger was slightly iffy and couldn't cope with the charge current and kept emergency-stopping as a result. The lovely lady I spoke to about it directed me to a nearby (12 miles or so, easily done with the charge I had) charger in the grounds of a gorgeous chateau hotel. That one worked perfectly and I filled up. I drove on to my second planned stop and that charge went perfectly too. In fact, every charge since has gone flawlessly. So perhaps my baptism of failed charges has hardened me to the problems with owning a BEV.

I've spent the past few days trying different charge points around Manchester enjoying my free charge capability, and trying different names for the car before I finally settled on 석진 which is a reasonable Korean boy's name (since the car is Korean I even got to set that as the bluetooth ID) and it's roughly pronounced sock/gin which are two wonderful things in life.

I'm currently sat in a pub, eating a burger, enjoying myself while 석진 suckles on the teat of "free" electricity to make up for the fact that I've developed a non-trivial habit of leaving Audi drivers in the dust at traffic lights.

Further updates may happen as I play with Android Auto and other toys in an attempt to eventually be able to ask the car to please "freeze my buttocks" (a feature it has in the form of air-conditioned seats.)

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